After a rocky online learning experience during the pandemic, Calcasieu Parish School Board realized they needed to rethink the virtual classroom. “We felt like we still needed to be prepared for some type of virtual opportunity for our students,” begins Dr. Doug DeVillier, Virtual Program Director at Calcasieu. “But we’ve also had some issues in the past with teacher shortages, accreditations, credentials of teachers, being able to really maximize our staff. So our virtual instruction program was created really to solve the problem of the teacher shortage and trying to find a smarter way to use the staff we had,” recalls Doug. With their end goals in mind, Calcasieu designed a unique virtual instruction program (VIP) that flipped the idea of online learning on its head.
“When you say ‘virtual’, people think the students are home. They think maybe the teachers are at home, but that’s not the case [at Calcasieu],” explains Doug. “The students are actually on their campus, but they’re not virtual all day long. And that’s really the game changer. They are face-to-face their entire day. But if they want to take a particular virtual class, which we offer through the virtual instruction program, they go into a special computer lab, and in that lab, they log in. Live time, live instruction. When they log in, their teacher logs in, and they are actually having a conversation with their teachers. And our teachers are located here with me in one school building.” With this new approach to online learning in place, Calcasieu needed to find an innovative virtual classroom that could support their VIP and deliver an engaging and valuable virtual learning experience that would truly connect students and teachers.